Elliptical Trainer Design – What Does It Mean For You?

 An Explanation of the 3 Different Types of Elliptical Trainers


elliptical buyer confusedIf you’re new to the world of elliptical trainers, you’ll notice that you keep running across terms like “front-drive” and “dual-flywheel”. You’ll also notice that not all elliptical designs look the same.

So what’s going on? And which design is best for you? This article will lay out the 3 different crosstrainer styles or designs – with the pros and cons of each:


#1 Front Drive Elliptical

Front drive ellipticals have their flywheel in front of the pedals like this:


front drive elliptical


Because of this placement, a front-drive elliptical tends to give you more of an uphill or climbing feel to it.

Many higher-end ellipticals tend to use a front-flywheel design, probably because the flywheel acts like more of an “anchor” to the machine, giving it a more stable feel.


#2 Rear Drive Elliptical

These ellipticals have their flywheels placed at the back of the machine – behind or towards the rear of the pedals. It looks something like this:

rear drive elliptical

This design layout tends to give you more of a flat-plane feel (instead of an inclined feel like a front drive). It feels more like running than climbing (as you get with the front-drive).

Many starter ellipticals tend to be rear-drive designs – and you can also find rear-drive models that fold up to save you space.


#3 Dual Flywheel Design

This design uses 2 smaller flywheels (as opposed to 1 large flywheel used on the 2 designs above). They are placed on either side of the pedals like this:


dual-side flywheel

This gives you more of a flat-plane running feel. There are several advantages to this design including the fact that you stand more upright on the machine and your feet are usually placed closer together (which feels more natural).

However on the downside, many of these ellipticals do not have the option to incline (which can help you get a better crosstraining workout). Incline can be found on many of the front and rear drive designs.

So those are the main elliptical trainer designs – and the differences between them. Is there a clear winner? Not really. It basically depends on your preferences, pocketbook and other factors like if you want incline or not.